While I was playing the final episode of Telltale Games' first season of its Fables prequel game, The Wolf Among Us, I was struck by just how many genres it cycles through before its conclusion. It's a locked-parlor mystery. Then it's an action movie. There's melodrama in there. One scene is straight-up horror. Then it's a legal drama.
Previous episodes covered even more genre territory, from noir to surreal fiction to police procedural, but it wasn't until this episode that it dawned on me that Telltale was honoring the storytelling style of Fables, which started as a whodunnit and quickly became beyond categorization in its genre-hopping. Fables isn't just a series about storybook characters, it's a story about stories, and Telltale gets that. This final episode, "Cry Wolf," absolutely proved it.
In its penultimate episode, the Telltale Games Fables prequel series The Wolf Among Us went to some dark, surreal places. Next week, the first-season finale, "Cry Wolf," will be available on Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, iOS and Steam, and, if the trailer is any indication, it seems to promise to snap things back to a violent, seedy reality.
Then again, maybe it doesn't.
(Warning: Minor spoilers for the first four episodes of The Wolf Among Us ahead.)
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When it started back in 2002, the premise of Bill Willingham's Vertigo series Fables seemed to be pretty simple: characters from fairy tales inhabiting a modern world. Nearly 12 years and 140 issues later, it's clear that isn't 100 percent accurate. The series has evolved to be as much about creating new fairy tales as it is about the modern-day area of New York City known as Fabletown, and it became as much about the characters' pasts as it was about their presents.
That's more than evident in the opening pages of Fables #141, the issue that kicks off the 10-part, series-ending "Happily Ever After," by Willingham, Mark Buckingham (the artist who drew the bulk of the series), Andrew Pepoy, Steve Leialoha and Lee Loughridge. A new piece of lore sets up the inevitable conflict that will see the series through to its conclusion. It's an elegant piece of storytelling, and the rest of the issue is similarly understated in a way that builds toward a climax, but doesn't reveal too much. It's all table setting, but it's one very nicely set table.
Here's my main complaint about Telltale Games penultimate episode of its Fables prequel video game, The Wolf Among Us: It starts a little slow.
That kind of seems to be the point, though. This episode, titled "In Sheep's Clothing," adds yet another twist to the noir-ish detective story that's been running through it. There's a psychological horror element to it that plays out with a very slow build, until it explodes into the surreal the very end. There's a sort of David Lynch feel to it. I absolutely loved it.
The first two episodes of Telltale Games' Fables prequel, The Wolf Among Us, had clearly served as homage to a very particular genre, neon noir. The third episode, "A Crooked Mile," which hit Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC and iOS this week, keeps the neon but seems to drop the noir.
What the developers and writers offer up instead is a bloodier, more aggressive story this time around. It feels pretty strongly like the a hat-tip to the gun-driven revenge and exploitation films of the 1970s, particularly by the end, and it gives the game a sense of welcome unpredictability.
So far, the Telltale Games Fables prequel game, The Wolf Among Ushas delivered on its promise of an atmospheric, intrigue-filled noir set in Fabletown, U.S.A.
The trailer for the third of the game's episodes, titled "A Crooked Mile," looks like that trend will continue with more mysteries, intense interrogations, and characters saying portentous, vague things at every turn. Oh, and Bigby Wolf continues to take (and dish out) a good many beatings along the way. Check out the trailer (which includes spoilers for the previous two episodes) after the jump!
The biggest weakness of the mostly fantastic first episode of Telltale Games' Fables prequel game,The Wolf Among Us, was one that tends to come up in prequels. It built a handful of major plot points around putting characters that show up safe and sound in Fables in seemingly mortal peril.
The second episode, titled "Smoke and Mirrors," largely avoids that pitfall by quickly dealing with the cliffhanger from the previous episode to unveil new secrets that arise more organically from the world of the game. New characters and seedy settings keep things fresh while maintaining a wonderfully noirish atmosphere. And while the gameplay is slightly different, it's still eminently compelling.
The second episode, titled "Smoke & Mirrors" hits next week and it finds lead character Bigby Wolf trying to make sense of it all while getting yelled at. A ton. Also: Jack! Check out the game's trailer (which contains some NSFW language) after the jump.
In a Friday blog post, writer Bill Willingham announced that his and Mark Buckingham's long-running Vertigo series Fableswill conclude with its 150th issue after what will have been a 13-year run.
That's still a ways off. This month's issue is #135, so, assuming a monthly schedule, that'd put the end of the series somewhere around the spring of 2015. Willingham said the choice to end the series was his, so he can be "more selective in what projects I take on" as he approaches age 60. Spinoff title Fairest will also come to an end.
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